Even with so much holiday cheer coming at ya, December can be a dismal month for TV viewers. As we bid farewell to the latest season of television favorites, we can’t help but dread the long wait until their return.
I know I’m already missing …
“Outlander” on Starz, which closed the season with an epic finish involving a wickedly saucy love scene, a near-drowning in the high seas and the landing of the time-crossed couple on the shores of 18th century America; and “Good Behavior,” which ends its thrilling second round at 9 p.m. Sunday on TNT, capping off a satisfying arc involving thief Letty (Michelle Dockery), who stumbles every time she tries to change for the better, and her sweet lover Javier (Juan Diego Botto), whom you can’t help but like even if he does make his living as a hitman.
Finally, there’s “Search Party,” at once a hilarious spoof of overly dramatic Millennials and a love letter to them. Its suspenseful second season wraps a one-two punch, starting at 9 p.m. Sunday on TBS.
I’m feeling better, however. That’s because I just soaked up a delightful sampling of new TV treats that are taking some of the sting out of these goodbyes. One charmer already is streaming on Amazon Prime, while the other four are just around the corner in late December and early January.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (currently streaming on Amazon Prime): I was late to the party on this one but was so glad when I finally became acquainted with this ’50s-set delight that shows a whole other side of supremely gifted actress Rachel Brosnahan, previously best known for her victimized call girl turn on “House of Cards.” Here, she plays Midge Maisel, a much funnier Jewish version of “Mad Men’s” Betty Draper, who goes to great lengths to please her beloved wannabe comic husband (Michael Zegen). She wakes up every morn before he does in order to do her hair and makeup and present a lovely visage to her man, bribes the booker of acts at a club in Greenwich Village with her homemade brisket and makes sure her figure remains proportionally desirable even after giving birth to two kids.
However, she discovers all may have been for naught one painful night after her hubby bombs in front of their friends, blames her for his failure and leaves. Drunk and distraught, she returns to the club and messily takes the stage herself, finally flaunting the talent for original comedy that she kept hidden in her undeserving husband’s shadow. Believe me, this series from “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino — whose dialogue is easily as snappy here — is so glorious, you’ll want to settle into an easy chair and binge, binge, binge.
“Black Mirror,” Season 4 (Dec. 29, Netflix): After noticing what appeared to be a riff on “Star Trek” among these new episodes, I switched on “USS Callister” and was mesmerized — thrilled, amused and scared out of my wits. The story, directed by Toby Haynes of “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” fame, introduces us to lonely and initially sympathetic tech wizard Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons, “Fargo”), who loses himself in a virtual world of his favorite vintage space series. Without giving too much away, his obsession takes on a dark, even cruel turn, as he falls deeper and deeper into his dream wormhole, taking several of is co-workers along for the strange and frightening ride. After the Emmy-winning “San Junipero” of last season, and watching this masterful piece of television, it’s becoming clearer by the minute that writer and “Black Mirror” creator Charlie Brooker is the Rod Serling of the modern age.
“LA to Vegas” (8 p.m. Jan. 2, Fox): With comedic talent aplenty behind this newcomer, including Will Ferrell and Steve Levitan (“Modern Family”), I expected something not too shabby — and came away far from disappointed. This ensemble workplace sitcom is a trip. Set aboard the fictional Jackpot Airlines, which flies regularly from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, it instantly engages us with funny chit-chat between flight attendants, a cocktail-swilling player of a pilot (Dylan McDermott) and a colorful bunch of passengers, including a buttoned-up Brit (Ed Weeks) whose deadpan delivery makes me howl. I’d even go out on a wing and say this is the funniest fly-the-skies comedy I’ve seen since “Airplane!”.
“Grown-ish” (7 p.m. Jan. 3, Freeform): Oldest child Zoey (Yara Shahidi) goes off to college, leaving her dad (Anthony Anderson) awash in tears, in this spinoff of hit series “Blackish.” Initially confident that she can easily conquer her new environs, Zoey learns more than one hard lesson in her early days on campus. No worries; at least she can share her discomfort and feelings of uncertainty with an equally challenged group of friends, right? Best part? The young audience this one is aimed at also may come away with valuable truths — including kindness, empathy for your fellow human and how satisfying it can be to snub peer pressure and own your individuality.
“The Chi” (9 p.m. Jan. 7, Showtime): “Master of None” actress and writer Lena Waithe, who made history during the recent Emmys by being the first African-American woman to win for comedy writing, now delivers a vivid drama. Set in the neighborhoods of her youth — the South Side of Chicago — this atmospheric series delivers a diverse quintet of central characters who hooked me from the get-go. Among them: Brandon, an aspiring chef from a broken home who’s determined to do whatever it takes to rise in the restaurant business and open his own eatery with his girlfriend; Emmett, a careless lothario who finally learns what it is to be a real man when forced to raise a kid of his own; and Kevin, an awkward 12-year-old constantly exposed to the dangers of the street. He’ll steal your heart with his awkward crush on a cultured classmate.